IT’S COWS WE’RE AFTER

                    “Now Ed: listen here: I haven’t an ounce of poetry
                           in all my body. It’s cows we’re after.”

                                        – Robinson Jeffers (“The Wind-Struck Music”)

A bone or two to pluck like harp strings
beneath the petals of tiger-lily skies at sunrise
over sharp ridgelines, men still ride in awe—
words float and poetry rolls off their tongues.

And they dare not whine, dare not succumb
to freezing rain, or none at all, until the work
is done—calving after calving, brandings,
yearlings gathered on the hoof to ship

in circles ‘round the sun to somewhere,
out there. ‘It’s cows we’re after’ savored:
moments stolen with herds in rhythm:
a cow, horse and the hearts of horsemen

pause that acknowledges the wild gods—
all pleased to have arrived in harmony
beyond the corrals and loading chutes
waiting at the end of roads in these hills.

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